The venture capital world has started firing up a few cylinders again and looking for businesses that it believes will help us all succeed in ways that resonate with new ways of working as we begin to return to work. It’s clear things have changed for good and the need for managing remote communities of employees, customers and partners has become ever more important. So it’s no surprise that Bevy is announcing a $15 million fund-raising closed in the midst of the WFH era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In marketing materials founders often refer to their customer base as a “community”, but there’s a huge gap between having customers and creating a community. The best businesses understand the difference and that communities are the single best advocates for others to buy your products.
When I worked at Salesforce we had “city tours” in which a senior exec on our team would fly to a city in America (eventually globally) and host an event with customers and prospects. Marc Benioff was the master at community building and he knew that it was far better to let his customers stand up and talk about how they were using Salesforce in front of prospects. This had a dual purpose — the customer on stage showing your product turns into an advocate or evangelist while the prospect is far more likely to be persuaded by a customer presentation than a salesperson’s pitch.
And when communities work best these new advocates form their own support groups to help each other out and work together on initiatives and once they’re a “member of the tribe” there’s a benefit of attracting other members.
You see it in the consumer world in obvious ways like with CrossFit, Barry’s or Peloton. These aren’t merely exercise methods — they are communities and tribes. A key goal of the community manager is to help like-minded people within the customer base find each other and find prospects and bind together. Peloton has recently done a big push to get users to add hashtags that they create — this is classic community management.
Community-building is advice I give to nearly every startup team with whom I work. Competitors can leapfrog you on features or outspend you on customer acquisitions but communities are very hard to disrupt. It’s what venture capital teams at innovators like First Round Capital and True Ventures realized 15 years ago — they could invest in entrepreneurial communities and the best founders would then bring in new founders. It’s no wonder they’ve both performed so well.
Building a community goes well beyond hosting events. You can think of your event (whether physical or virtual) as the iceberg above the water that is the physical representation of a community event but building a community is so much more about what you do before and after. If SaaStr were a mere annual conference it wouldn’t be as valuable as it’s become. Jason Lemkin nurtures his community throughout the year.
Years ago I came across a young community builder named Derek Andersen, the founder of Startup Grind. The enthusiasm that Startup Grind members had to meet, to connect, and to build relationships far outpaced the company’s ability, financial resources, and available tools to manage those events. I hadn’t known Derek before but he knew I was a huge fan of the late Clayton Christensen, the HBS professor and author of the highly influential book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Ever the community builder, Derek booked Clay to speak at his event but instead of interviewing him he asked me — somebody he knew from afar — to do the interview. I became an advocate for Derek and for Startup Grind, speaking several more times. I connected with Clay Christensen and stayed in touch until he passed. (If you want to watch my interview from 7 years ago it’s here or you can read the summary notes I wrote up)
Derek built Startup Grind from 2011 with 20 people in one room for a conference into a global phenomenon with 600 chapters all over the world and more than 2 million members. As he built this organization he realized the limitations of tools that existed to help recruit, nurture and manage communities so he set out to build these tools and capabilities to enable other companies to launch communities more effectively and with fewer resources.
Derek founded Bevy — a platform to allow local communities police and manage themselves through in-person events and meetups.
Bevy launched in 2017 and quickly helped companies like Atlassian, Duolingo, and Salesforce to scale hundreds of monthly in-person meetups and events. Led by my partner Kobie Fuller, we’ve been a proud investor since the early days and it was exciting to see customers bringing people together IRL via Bevy.
And then came March 2020 and events globally were being cancelled.
In a matter of weeks, most of us went to strict shelter-in-place with no possibility of even seeing family members, much less attending a community event. What happens to an events company when businesses can no longer hold in-person events?
What we all quickly realized in a period where we can’t be together physically is that there’s still a need for community — possibly even more so. We still want connection with like-minded people around a shared set of passions and challenges. That hasn’t changed. But how we do it has totally shifted and while businesses were quick to host online events of all kinds, very few companies had a good sense how to facilitate true community.
Probably many of you have had the experience of 50 people in a Zoom call with no moderation tools, no one in charge, and no sense of how it flows. More often than not people talk over each other or don’t talk at all. Maybe we hear from one droning speaker and the rest of us are passively consuming information. It’s the opposite of community.
Although a lot of companies are scrambling to create tools and better collaboration on virtual interactions, Bevy has been doing this at scale for years. So within a matter of days post shelter-in-place, Bevy took everything they were already enabling offline and started applying those tools to running remote communities and meetings. In just six weeks, Salesforce has hosted 650 virtual events with nearly 20,000 attendees, and Duolingo hosted 1000 virtual events — just to name a few.
That’s because Bevy isn’t simply a video-hosting company, it’s a platform for managing groups before and after your virtual event as well. So instead of having to use a CRM, and an email platform, a video-hosting tool, a chat function, and a video publishing platform like YouTube, you have one complete solution in one product. Plus, because it’s built expressly to scale virtual communities, it doesn’t require a bunch of people to run; many of Bevy’s customers host hundreds of monthly events with a single in-house manager.
As an investor, it’s been incredible to see how quickly the team has optimized its product, but as a long-time colleague and admirer of Derek’s, it’s not surprising at all. Nor should anyone be surprised that today the company announced its $15 million Series B funding, led by Accel. Ryan Smith, the founder of Qualtrics, also invested and has joined the board of directors.
To an outsider, it might sound crazy that an events business was able to raise funding on the cusp of complete physical isolation. And it would be — but Bevy has never just been about events, it’s about community. They’ve had a huge head-start on the competition and are well-positioned to maintain leadership as we adjust to building community in this new COVID era.
At Upfront, we’ve put a lot of effort into building in-person community, including our annual Upfront Summit event. This will always be important to us, but we also see tremendous opportunity to expand our virtual community to include friends and colleagues worldwide. You can stay in touch with us at out own Upfront community page via the Bevy platform, where you’ll find a few upcoming events (and many more to come in the next weeks and months.)
Two weeks left to score early bird savings at TC Sessions: Space 2020
NASA just made history by landing a spacecraft on an asteroid. If that kind of technical achievement carbonates your glass of Tang, join us on December 16-17 for TC Sessions: Space 2020, an event dedicated to early-stage space startups. We’ve launched early-bird pricing, and $125 buys you access to all live sessions, plus video on […]
NASA just made history by landing a spacecraft on an asteroid. If that kind of technical achievement carbonates your glass of Tang, join us on December 16-17 for TC Sessions: Space 2020, an event dedicated to early-stage space startups.
We’ve launched early-bird pricing, and $125 buys you access to all live sessions, plus video on demand. Don’t procrastinate. Buy your pass now before the early-bird reenters Earth’s atmosphere (and prices go up) on November 13 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).
More ways to save: Go further together with early bird group tickets ($100) — bring four team members and get the fifth one free. We also offer discount passes for students ($50) and government, military and non-profits ($95). Looking for out-of-this-world exposure? An Early Stage Startup Exhibitor Package ($360) includes four tickets, digital exhibition space, a pitch session to attendees and the ability to generate leads. Bonus savings: Extra Crunch subscribers get a 20 percent discount.
TC Sessions: Space is an unrivaled opportunity to learn from, connect and network with boundary-pushing founders, investors and officials from NASA, the Aerospace Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and leading space companies spanning public, private and defense sectors.
We’ve packed the conference with outstanding presentations, fireside chats and interviews. Plus, you’ll find breakout sessions on specialized topics, audience Q&As with Main Stage speakers and the expo area for partners and early stage startups.
Here’s a taste of the topics but keep an eye on the agenda, because we’ll add more speakers and sessions in the coming weeks.
Asteroid Rocks and Moon Landings
Lisa Callahan, vice president/general manager of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin Space, discusses all aspects of scientific and civil exploration of the solar system — from robots scooping rockets from the surface of galaxy-traveling asteroids, to preparing for the return of humans to the surface of the Moon.
Sourcing Tech for Securing Space
Lt. General Thompson is responsible for fostering an ecosystem of non-traditional space startups and the future of Space Force acquisitions, all to the end goal of protecting the global commons of space. He’ll discuss what the U.S. looks for in startup partnerships and emerging tech, and how it works with these young companies.
Bridging Today and Tomorrow’s Tech
Corporate VC funds are a key source of investment for space startups, in part because they often involve partnerships that help generate revenue, and because they understand the timelines involved. SpaceFund’s Meagan Crawford and Lockheed Martin Ventures’ J. Christopher Moran discuss how these funds fit in with more standard venture to power the ecosystem.
TC Sessions: Space 2020 takes flight on December 16-17, but we’re starting our early bird countdown right now. Great savings disappear in two weeks on November 13 at 11:59 p.m. (PT). Buy your early bird passes today and celebrate your savvy shopping with a tall glass of Tang.
Is your company interested in sponsoring TC Sessions: Space 2020? Click here to talk with us about available opportunities.
Leon Black offers more details on ties to Jeffrey Epstein – Update
Apollo chief executive raised the issue after questions swirled about his relationship with the late financier
Leon Black, the billionaire chief executive of Apollo, on Thursday, 29 October, offered a history of his ties to the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, his most detailed public account yet of a relationship that sparked renewed concern among his firm’s shareholders and fund investors in recent weeks.
Epstein was indicted last year on federal sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls.
On a call to discuss the private equity firm’s third-quarter earnings, Black said he wasn’t eager to speak publicly about his personal business, “but this matter is now affecting Apollo, which my partners and I spent 30 years building, and is also causing deep pain for my family.”
The Apollo chief reiterated that he paid Epstein millions of dollars annually to provide professional services to his family partnership and other family entities, “involving estate planning, tax, structuring of art entities and philanthropic advice” from 2012 to 2017.
He said there was substantial documentation of the work and that it was vetted by law firms, accounting firms and other advisers.
“There has never been an allegation by anyone that I engaged in any wrongdoing, because I did not,” Black said. “And any suggestion of blackmail or any other connection to Epstein’s reprehensible conduct is categorically untrue.”
Black also re-emphasised that Apollo never did business with Epstein, who died by suicide in jail in August 2019, the New York City medical examiner found.
The speech came after the three Apollo board members to who make up the New York firm’s conflict committee last week hired law firm Dechert to conduct an independent review into Black’s business with Epstein. Black said he asked for the review and is cooperating fully.
The moves were prompted by a New York Timesreport on 12 October that Black had paid Epstein at least $50m — more than previously known—in the years after Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.
The article didn’t present any evidence that Black participated in inappropriate activity, but it sparked concern among some of Apollo’s public-pension fund investors and has weighed on the company’s shares.
Apollo’s shares rose briefly after Black’s statement but later fell about 1% in morning trading Thursday, 29 October.
Black, who co-founded Apollo in 1990, said he met Epstein around 1996 when Epstein was advising a number of prominent clients on estate-tax planning. The adviser had been named a trustee of Rockefeller University and served on the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
In his network were “luminaries I respected and admired, including several heads of state, heads of prominent families in finance, a US treasury secretary, accomplished business leaders, Nobel laureates, acclaimed academicians and noted philanthropists,” Black said.
The Apollo chief said he wasn’t aware of Epstein’s criminal conduct until it was reported in late 2006 that he was under investigation by state and federal authorities in Florida.
In 2007, Epstein signed a federal nonprosecution agreement, which has since been scrutinised, to resolve that investigation, pleading guilty the following year to two state prostitution counts. He spent much of his 13-month sentence outside prison.
After his release, Epstein went back to his financial-advisory work and once again began associating with prominent people from finance, academia, science, technology and government, Black said. He said he didn’t learn the extent of the further allegations about Epstein’s conduct in 2018 until after he had already stopped working with him.
“Like many other people I respected, I decided to give Epstein a second chance,” he said. “This was a terrible mistake. I wish I could go back in time and change that decision, but I cannot.”
Whether Black’s explanation and the independent investigation will be enough to satisfy the firm’s jittery investors remains to be seen. Working to Apollo’s advantage is the fact that big pension funds, which typically need to invest large sums of money, have relatively few options for where to do so. And Apollo’s funds have continued to offer them strong returns.
Any defections among investors could theoretically threaten the firm’s goal set last year of reaching $600bn in assets over the next five years. For now, growth in the metric is chugging along. The firm said that assets climbed to $433.1bn in the third quarter, up from $413.6bn in the prior quarter and $322.7bn a year earlier.
Apollo chief financial officer Martin Kelly said the firm’s assets were durable even if the independent review of Black has an impact on fundraising. He noted that 60% of Apollo’s assets are in permanent-capital vehicles—pools of money that don’t need to be constantly replenished—and 90% are either in permanent-capital vehicles or funds with five years or longer from inception.
Kelly said the firm expects some of its investors will pause new commitments until the independent review has been completed. But even if Apollo raises no additional third-party capital this year, its fundraising of $18.4bn from third parties through 30 September already falls within its typical annual range of $15bn to $20bn, he said.
“We have incredibly long and durable relationships with our clients,” Apollo co-founder Josh Harris said on the call. “We’re deeply in contact with them, and obviously they are awaiting the results of the review Leon discussed.”
In response to an analyst question about how long the review would take, Apollo said it hoped the process could be completed by the end of the year, but that it was in the hands of the conflict committee.
Apollo also reported lower net income and distributable earnings for the quarter. It posted net income of $272.4m, or $1.11 a share, down from earnings of $363.3m, or $1.63 a share, a year earlier. The decline was primarily driven by a bigger loss attributable to noncontrolling interests.
Fee-related earnings were a bright spot, climbing 30% year-over-year.
Apollo invested a net $20.9bn across its various investment platforms during the quarter, a metric that reflects investments in vehicles beyond traditional drawdown funds.
The firm said it would pay a dividend of 51 cents per share versus 50 cents a share for the third quarter of 2019.
Write to Miriam Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com
Alternative Investments/ESG: Brunel Allots £1.2B ($1.55B) Sustainable Mandate To Three Managers
The Brunel Pension Partnership has picked Ownership Capital, RBC Global Asset Management, and Nordea Asset Management to manage its new Sustainable Equities Fund of around £1.2 billion ($1.55 billion). Brunel is one of eight pooled Local Government Pension Scheme funds in the U.K.
Alternative Investments/ESG: Brunel Allots £1.2B ($1.55B) Sustainable Mandate To Three Managers
The Brunel Pension Partnership Limited (Brunel) launched a new Sustainable Equities Fund for local authorities’ pension funds.
The Brunel Pension Partnership has picked Ownership Capital, RBC Global Asset Management, and Nordea Asset Management to manage its new Sustainable Equities Fund of around £1.2 billion ($1.55 billion).
Brunel is one of eight pool Local Government Pension Scheme funds in the U.K.
The sub-fund mandate is on behalf of 10 local government pension scheme funds. They wanted a listed equity portfolio with a pronounced skew in favor of ESG considerations. The emphasis would be on companies with positive ESG performance rather than negative exclusions. (Institutional Asset Manager)
Multi-manager sustainable fund
Brunel shortlisted the three managers from 70 expressions of interest.
“The three managers we appointed share a broad investing style and a prioritization of sustainability, yet their approaches are also different enough to provide clients with the diversification they were looking for,” said David Cox, Head of Listed Markets at Brunel.
“We were delighted to find managers who share our understanding of sustainability, embedding it deep into their culture and investment processes,” says David Jenkins, Portfolio Manager for the Sustainable Equities Fund. “This portfolio, therefore, meets our aspiration to go beyond traditional Responsible Investing and ensure that the managers are engaged with the companies and are investing in them for positive reasons, not simply focusing on negative exclusions.”
The portfolio is significantly underweight to the GICS energy sector. It also features an aggregate carbon intensity that is significantly lower than its benchmark, the MSCI All Country World Index.
The selected managers will integrate ESG considerations into their whole investing process. Their focus will not be to manage ESG risks – rather to positively seek out exposure to companies on a sustainable path.
In the process, they would also generate a suitable financial return.
Related Story: Insurers Take a Fancy To ESG & Sustainability ETFs (Invesco)
Latest Alternative Investment News
Azimo joins Australian fintechs in fight for cheaper international money transfers
Proclamation des meilleures villes du monde pour 2021
Saban Music Group y la brillante estrella, CHESCA lanzan “El Cambio,” una versión en español de “The Change” de Diane Warren, un himno para la campaña de 2020 de Joe Biden y Kamala Harris ¡y mucho más!
SIMBA Chain Brings Home the Gold Medal in the U.S. Air Force’s First Advanced Manufacturing Olympics
The Final Strip Resort to Reopen, The Cromwell Returns as First Adults-Only Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas Blvd.
Antero Resources Issues Notice of Redemption for its 5.375% Senior Notes Due 2021
5 Interesting Learnings from Zendesk. As It Crosses $1B in ARR.
FINAFLEX Celebrates New Partnerships to Increase Distribution of its Popular Oatmeal Protein Pie
Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric Now Offering Chicagoland Homeowners Furnace Inspections
Atari Chief: ‘I’m a Big Supporter of the Blockchain’
Set the Scene for Movie Night
Gold House Announces Black Friday Sale With Fall 2020 Gold Rush Cohort
Sandra Day O’Connor Institute For American Democracy Launched
CZ terms report of Binance trying to evade US regulators as ‘Fud’
Americas Market Intelligence to Hold 2021 LatAm Risk Symposium
Venture Capital1 week ago
Alex delivers Comprehensive Credit Reporting with Equifax in record time
Press Releases6 days ago
Dano Veal – How my Company Adjusted to Dominate During COVID-19
Private Equity1 week ago
Perch Funded $123.5M to Accelerate Quality Brands and Expand its Platform
Venture Capital6 days ago
Microsoft Bashes Slack Complaint in European Antitrust Filing
Private Equity1 week ago
Liquid Alternatives: Fidelity Canada Launches Three New Liquid Alt Mutual Funds
Startup2 days ago
President Trump’s campaign website hacked by cryptocurrency scammers
Venture Capital7 days ago
McAfee’s Dismal Return to Public Market: The Information’s Tech Briefing
Venture Capital1 week ago